Album Review: Memory Garden - Doomain

There are concerns for bands that extend beyond the writing and playing of their music. Making an album can be a long, tedious, draining experience, but the job isn't done when the last note is given the final once over. Timing can be just as important as the actual music, the impact made by an album depending on when and in what mindframe the audience gets the chance to absorb the music. When it's written down, it sounds like a ridiculous complaint that an album was released at the wrong time, but we're human, and there's a part of human nature that compartmentalizes our lives by time.

Which brings us to Memory Garden's new album, "Doomain", an obvious slab of full on doom metal that comes to us in the middle of.... Spring? Yes, Spring is an odd time for a doom metal band to put out an album, the very time of the year when hope and optimism are sprouting, and the memories of the harsh winter are starting to fade. This is not prime territory for doom to take hold, a fact I tend to think will effect the way I view the music.

"The Evangelist" starts things out with a tasty guitar melody before dropping into the stomping main riff. This is doom straight from the Candlemass playbook, not the Sabbath one. Riffs and melodies abound, with big choruses hammering home the power of the songs. Unlike Candlemass' recent swansong, Memory Garden is able to organically integrate these elements into the songs, sounding more like a slowed down traditional metal band than what you would assume from doom metal, where songwriting is often an afterthought to unrelenting heaviness.

"Doomain" is still a massively heavy album, both in the doomier moments as well as the more up-tempo numbers. "Daughters Of The Sea" is no dirge, but cedes no power for its extra speed. The touches of progressive songwriting are welcome, with a meandering structure and acoustic passages breaking the composition up, all serving to wind around the lovely vocal melodies.

From there, we delve as deep as we can go, as "Barren Lands" is not only doom personified, it layers death growls under the chorus, which are innocent enough, but unnecessary to prove the song's heaviness. Whether they felt them needed to counteract the neo-classical guitar secion or not, the song doesn't gain from their inclusion. It's a good song either way.

"The King Of The Dead" might be the most interesting song, sounding like a slower version of Firewind, right down to the vocal inflections, which are an uncanny ringer for their former singer Apollo Papathanasio.

The only issue I have with the album is the production, which throws a digital haze over the guitars, draining the power of old school doom. The oppression in this kind of sound comes from the sheer power of speakers moving air and shaking the world, but these guitars are more cutting, and unable to create a feeling of desperation that would benefit the songs.

"Doomain" is a really good album of Candlemass styled doom metal, and is a far better effort than the legends themselves went out on. These are precisely the kind of doom songs I like, and "Doomain" is an album I could see myself liking quite a bit. But hearing it now, as I'm looking ahead to the rest of the year with a positive attitude, it asks for more than other albums are of me. I'm not sure I have that much to give to a record right now. "Doomain" is really good, but it will be even better when the year is dying.

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